The week started out like a real bummer for Pepperdine and Coach Gary Colson. First came a disheartening Tuesday loss to Loyola of Los Angeles, 70-67. Then, in preparation for a Friday night tussle at home against undefeated Nevada, Las Vegas, the Waves had two horrendous practice sessions. They were so bad that the affable Colson admitted, "I was afraid I'd blow my top." Instead, he took off after the Thursday workout and went for a drive along the Pacific near the Pepperdine campus in Malibu. During his 30-minute spin the sight of the waves hammering the shore may well have frightened him into the notion that his team would suffer a similar pounding from the Rebels. But during the game Colson's Waves did some pounding of their own.
First, however, the Waves fell behind 69-57, much to the dismay of the 4,500 fans who somehow wedged their way into Firestone Fieldhouse, where capacity is supposed to be 3,500. With 15:56 left, Pepperdine began chipping away at the deficit, pulling even 81-all and again 91-all when Dick Skophammer scored the last of his 21 points by driving the baseline for a lay up with 2:26 to go.
Las Vegas went into a stall, then missed a foul shot with 16 seconds remaining. Pepperdine corraled the rebound and brought the ball downcourt. Ollie Matson Jr., son of the former football star, took a snap pass, dribbled once and uncorked a jump shot from just inside the free-throw line. It nicked the rim, spun and fell through the net with five seconds left. A desperation shot by the Rebels failed, and their 23-game winning streak came to an end with the 93-91 setback. Center Marcos Leite, who also plays for the Brazilian national squad, led the Waves with 22 points and 13 rebounds.
February 16, 1976
"Unbelievable," muttered Rebel Coach Jerry Tarkanian.
"Golly," said the jubilant Colson. "Beating Las Vegas has got to be the biggest win ever." Reminded that he had said the same earlier in the season after a 75-65 upset of San Francisco, Colson amended his words. "Then this is the most satisfying ever."
While UCLA took command in the Pacific Eight, early conference-leader Oregon State was shocked 73-72 by California before pulling itself together for an 82-76 win over Stanford. Oregon put down Stanford 72-59 and California 79-60. But Southern Cal, which had won 11 of 12 games before the start of league play, had its Pacific Eight mark lowered to 0-7 by losing to Washington State 80-72 and to Washington 91-79.
Utah (16-4) forged its way to the top of the Western AC with a 6-1 league record by defeating Colorado State 82-75 and Wyoming 87-69. Moving into contention after a fitful start was Arizona State (4-3), which lost its three big men on fouls but hung on for a 67-63 decision over Arizona (5-2). New Mexico surprised Texas-El Paso 69-58.
San Francisco continued to shape up, extending its string of victories to nine with a pair of West Coast AC triumphs over Santa Clara, 63-49 and 86-73.
1. UCLA (17-3)
2. UNLV (23-1)
A tip, a sub and a lucky bounce were all instrumental in keeping Indiana unbeaten as it squirmed past Michigan 72-67 in overtime. Constant changes of defense—from man-to-man, to numerous zones, to a full-court press—helped the Wolverines keep the Hoosiers at bay in the first half 39-29, only the second time in 53 games Indiana had trailed at halftime. But the Hoosiers retaliated as the newest of their supersubs, sophomore Guard Wayne Radford, scored all 16 of his points after the intermission. Still, Indiana was down 60-58 when it missed two shots in the waning seconds. The second miss, though, ricocheted right to Kent Benson, who got credit for tipping the ball in for the tying basket at the buzzer. Michigan took a four-point lead in overtime only to have Indiana go ahead for keeps on shots by Radford and Scott May, who had 27 points.
In an earlier Big Ten encounter, Michigan beat Wisconsin 107-86. Terry Furlow riddled the basket for 59 points as third-place Michigan State walloped Northwestern 91-71 and edged Ohio State 83-82. Earlier in the week Fred Taylor, the dean of Big Ten coaches, announced he would be resigning after his 18th season with the Buckeyes.
It was a typical Kentucky-Tennessee contest in Knoxville: seven technical fouls, one player from each team ejected for scuffling, a fight among fans that resulted in some ejections from the arena and postgame acrimony. Tennessee, which earlier had scuttled Mississippi State 75-66, came out on top 92-85. Ernie Grunfeld, accused by Wildcat Coach Joe Hall of shooting fouls for teammates when the teams met last month, scored 32 points for the Volunteers. Teammate Mike Jackson added 28 and Bernard King 22. After the last shot had been fired, Hall, as usual, spoke up. Commenting on the 25 personal fouls called on his team as opposed to the 15 against Tennessee, he said, "We're the fourth SEC team to come in here and out-field-goal them and lose because of all those free throws."
Alabama and Vanderbilt stayed within a game of first-place Tennessee. A pair of 20-foot jumpers by freshman Tommy (The Wrist) Bonds in the last 18 seconds of regulation play enabled Alabama to tie Georgia. In overtime, sophomore Guard Anthony Murray scored six points as the Tide won 69-67. Murray, who had an 11-point scoring average, also had a hot hand against Auburn, contributing 24 points in an 86-75 victory. Vanderbilt came up with a couple of hairbreadth wins, taking a last-shot decision over Mississippi 61-60 and beating Georgia 71-69 in double overtime.
When Dick Vitale took over as Detroit coach three seasons ago, he said, "I want to enter the building some night and see a standing-room-only sign." He finally saw it last week when North Carolina came to town. Vitale, ever the promoter, was ready. The arena lights were doused while, one by one, all 14 of his Titans jumped through a hoop and into a spotlight to the acclaim of the crowd of 9,000. Then the Titans jumped into the frying pan and were seared by the Tar Heels 91-76 as Mitch Kupchak pumped in 30 points and pulled down 17 rebounds.
Four days later 8,352 fans were on hand when Detroit took on another powerhouse, Marquette. This time the Titans nearly pulled off an upset, leading by nine points in the second half. But they failed to score during the last 4:45 and lost 68-66 when Lloyd Walton sank a jumper at the game's end. Vitale blamed himself in part for the loss, admitting that one of his players was watching him give signals from the bench when Butch Lee of the Warriors stole the ball and scored a game-tying layup. "I won't sleep tonight," said Vitale.
Centenary (19-3) left opposing coaches with no such sleepless nights, swarming all over Houston Baptist 123-90, Hardin-Simmons 133-94 and Southern Mississippi 87-67.
Notre Dame also exploded, drubbing La Salle 108-89 and Davidson 117-74 as Adrian Dantley zeroed in for 70 points.
Western Michigan (18-0) stumbled past Loyola of Chicago 80-73 after almost blowing a 16-point lead, then nipped Central Michigan 76-73.
1. INDIANA (19-0)
2. MARQUETTE (18-1)
With both of Texas Tech's starting forwards out with the flu, subs Grant Dukes and Mike Russell gave healthy performances against Arkansas. Dukes swished 10 quick points as the Red Raiders moved in front 14-4 and Tech went on to win 86-78 as Russell led the team's .660 shooting by sinking nine of 11 shots and winding up with 23 points. With the Red Raiders trailing TCU 45-36 in their next outing, Rick Bullock got busy. Bullock netted 15 points in eight minutes and Tech breezed 82-75. But Tech remained half a game in back of Texas A&M in the Southwest Conference. The Aggies stayed on top by beating Texas 85-69 and Baylor 78-63. SMU was a game out after clipping Rice 109-71 and Texas 79-76.
Kansas State's Purple Popguns were at their best as the Wildcats wriggled back into the Big Eight race. Chuckie Williams flicked in 32 points and Mike Evans 20 as State dealt Missouri its first conference loss, 85-81. Next time out, Evans had 31 points and Williams 14 as the Wildcats (5-2 in the league) beat Oklahoma State 60-55. Missouri's Willie Smith gunned in 32 points in a 98-78 decision at Colorado. Nebraska (6-1) tied the Tigers for first place, bouncing defending titlist Kansas 57-54 and Iowa State 66-56.
Pitt tried to confuse Cincinnati with its "amoeba" defense, so called because of its constantly changing alignment. Never ones to let a little thing like an amoeba stop them, the Bearcats won 89-77. Cincinnati also polished off Jacksonville 87-62.
An 84-71 win over Bradley and a 70-61 conquest of Tulsa moved Wichita State into the lead in the Missouri Valley scramble.
1. MISSOURI (18-3)
2. CINCINNATI (17-3)
"For a major-college team we're short and slow," drawled Georgia Tech Coach Dwane Morrison. "And we're real poor free-throw shooters. But these guys start growing on you after a while." They certainly grew on North Carolina State—like barnacles. Morrison's short, slow, bad-eyed gang jostled the Wolfpack 78-67. And they did it without a field goal in the last 6:15. They won on foul shots, getting their last 22 points from the foul line and canning 30 of 35 tries. The night before, State whipped Furman 102-76 as Kenny Carr pumped in his team's first 16 points and 39 all told. Facing the same nonconference teams, North Carolina beat Tech 79-74, overcoming a 24-10 deficit and the loss of Center Mitch Kupchak, who was poked in the eye. Carolina then stomped Furman 97-64.
Three major Atlantic Coast contests were played, North Carolina State winning one and Maryland two. With Carr scoring 38 points, the Wolfpack downed Clemson 97-89. John Lucas scored 19 points as the Terps took care of Virginia 69-66, then tossed in 28 as they overhauled Duke 102-91. Guard Tate Armstrong scored 37 for the Blue Devils, but they could not match the Terps on the foul line: Maryland missed its first free throw, then sank 28 in a row to set a school mark of .966.
"You try to play dumb, give them the dead leg and then make your move," said Mike Dabney of Rutgers. "I anticipated." His anticipation paid off with a steal when Princeton, trailing 55-53, stalled. Dabney followed up his theft with a layup. "After that we started to flow," said teammate Phil Sellers, who had 22 points and 16 rebounds in the Scarlet Knights' 75-62 victory. Rutgers also beat West Virginia 86-76 and, with Dabney getting 27 points, stopped Navy 86-71.
Back in the Ivy League, Princeton forced 28 Columbia turnovers to win 69-53 and then wrecked Cornell's slowdown 53-35.
Marquette came East and defeated Manhattan 78-59, but visiting DePaul was shocked by Rhode Island 71-70.
St. John's sandwiched its loss to Georgetown with two wins, beating Army 87-75 in overtime and downing Fordham 77-67. Providence was a three-time winner, downing Brown 81-59, Niagara 76-67 and cracking Holy Cross' press 103-85.
1. RUTGERS (19-0)
2. N. CAROLINA (18-2)